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Monday, January 30, 2006

Mark Griskey and the music for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe - the Game

If you are a regular visitor to the site, you will have seen how the music score for a game can be just as effective and excellent as that composed for the film it is based on. I am of course referring to Chance Thomas' music for King Kong. Well, the music for the film of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe has also been covered here, and a fine score it is too, but what of the game version of this film?
Having been a composer of game scores for LucasArts since 2001, including Jedi Starfighter, Gladius and Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Mark Griskey decided to go freelance in March 2005 and landed the plum assignment with Beuna Vista Games.
I was first made aware of the fact when reading an interview with the composer at the excellent Music4Games site, where I learned that Griskey loves fantasy literature and therefore was thrilled to land this assignment. His enthusiasm is certainly evident in the music. Some writers have criticised Harry Gregson-Williams' approach to the film's score, likening it to a typical Media Ventures effort. I don't necessarily agree with this, but have to admit that Griskey's music is probably more what these writers were hoping to hear, namely, a traditional orchestral/choral score, more akin to Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings compositions than to Gregson-Williams' approach.
Utilising a 50-piece orchestra comprised of strings and winds from the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, together with virtual brass, percussion and choir, Griskey composed several themes for the game, coming up with the right mix of innocence, wonder and adventure for the challenges facing the Pevensie children. But before their adventures begin, he provides some pretty menacing moments for the horrors of the blitz. It's all pretty conventional until they discover themselves in Narnia, where the composer allows traditional winds like flutes, recorder and penny whistle to come to the fore, along with choir, often used subtly to add a feeling of awe, although they can provide their share of menace as well. Aslan has a suitably otherwordly quality to his theme and heroic moments are suitably underlined. As for the action, of which there is necessarily a good deal, there are some very exciting moments indeed, with an almost Celtic quality to the music representing the forces of good, and a menacing and often very percussive sound for the White Witch's horde. The great pity is that this fine score is not commercially available. You can however hear some of it playing over the game's official website, and of course can enjoy it where it is most meant to be heard - in the game itself.
Although also orchestral in approach, very much in John Williams vein, though with little reference, save for hints of the Emperor's Theme, to the themes from the Star Wars films, Griskey previously wrote effective music for LucasArts' Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, as previously mentioned. It's much darker scoring than for Narnia, with none of the accessible thematic material found in that game, but it still has that great brassy Star Wars sound, with dark marches, much suspense and powerful moments, together with some exciting action music and noble, heroic, and almost spiritual moments representing the Jedi Knights and the power for good. Again, the music is unfortunately not commercially available, but check out Mark Griskey's website for MP3s from this and other of his scores, and also visit the game's official site.
On the strength of these efforts, I am sure we shall be hearing much more of the music of Mark griskey in the future and I, for one, can't wait.

Interview at
Mark Griskey's Website at
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - The Game's Official Site at
Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords - The Game's Official Site at


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